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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Fall on Playground Results in Defense Verdict

Not all personal injury claims are created equal and sometimes an accident really just is an accident.  This lesson was just learned by a Plaintiff in Middlesex Superior Court after a four-day trial resulted in a defense verdict and no recovery for the Plaintiff.  The claim involved an injury to a seven year old girl who suffered a fall at a school playground.

In the matter of Ozkan v. City of Malden, seven year old Nihal Ozkan was a student at the Linden Steam Academy in Malden, Massachusetts.  According to the Plaintiff’s Complaint, on or around October 27, 2017, Miss Ozkan was outside on the school playground using equipment provided by the school.  Among the equipment was a metal hockey net which the Plaintiff alleged was highly unstable.  According to the Complaint, while using the hockey net, Miss Ozkan grabbed the metal crossbar and the goal fell on her head.  As a result of being hit with the solid metal goal, Miss Ozkan suffered personal injuries and has permanent scarring.

In its Complaint, the Plaintiff alleged that the City of Malden owed a duty of reasonable care to all of its students attending the Linden Steam Academy and breached its duty of reasonable care by “allowing students age 7 and below to use an old, decrepit, heavy, dangerous hockey goal while playing outside” and “failing to supervise students’ at recess.”

While the allegations seem severe, what the Plaintiff left out in the Complaint was that the teachers explained at the beginning of the school year that students were not allowed to climb or hang on the goals.  Additionally, the Defendant persuaded the Court to issue instructions to the jury that the jury could not consider as evidence of negligence, the number of teachers supervising the playground or whether they received any education or training on playground supervision (under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act).

When the Jury was presented with the full picture of the case after deliberating for only twenty minutes, they came back with a defense verdict of no negligence.

Just because there has been an injury suffered accompanied with possible negligence does not guarantee recovery of damages.  That is why it is important to seek out a good personal injury attorney to properly evaluate the case.

If you have any questions regarding personal injury, please feel free to contact the Law Offices of Samuel S. Reidy for a free consultation.

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